Manchester City’s positive return to football continued with a routine 5-0 dispatching of an outgunned Burnley side at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City were fantastic once again in what for large stretches looked like a training match as the Blues denied rivals Liverpool the opportunity to clinch their first Premier League title in 30 years on Wednesday.
At this point, City are merely gearing up for runs in the FA Cup and the Champions League, but the remaining Premier League games still represent an opportunity to rotate and get players back into the swing of a regular calendar of football, and the team looked at its excellent best once again today.
1. Phil Foden has arrived
If the excitement over young star Phil Foden was not already at a fever pitch, it surely is now. After scoring in City’s first game back, he added two more today, and has now scored four goals and given seven assists in his 12 starts for the Blues this season. With club captain David Silva set to depart at the end of this elongated campaign, his replacement is ready, and Foden could even feature more down the stretch than the outgoing Spaniard with this level of form.
2. Riyad Mahrez continues to dazzle
With a Lionel Messi-esque dribbling display on a slaloming run ending in a goal, then following that up with a penalty conversion, Algerian winger Riyad Mahrez has hit the ground running again in what has been an incredible season. With the Leroy Sané situation growing ever more complex (see below), Mahrez has firmly established himself as a favorite of Pep Guardiola’s, and deservedly so; he’s been fantastic.
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3. The Leroy Sané conundrum
After officially announcing his time at the club would shortly be coming to an end, seeing German winger Sané take the pitch in sky blue late in the match was an odd sight to say the least. After missing months through injury, he was extremely anxious to get on the scoresheet, taking a free kick on the edge of the area from Kevin de Bruyne and later blasting a shot into the stands. There is a serious question of principle to be asked in such a situation: After hurting the club by leading fans and the board on with the possibility of an extension, with the plan all along being to lower the asking price for Bayern Munich or leave on a free, should Guardiola play him? My first reaction is yes, thinking that if he could play a role in helping City win the Champions League, it’s worth swallowing some pride.
While that may be valid, there are deserving youth academy talents and potential replacements such as Jayden Braaf, who fully deserve the opportunity to see senior minutes in a 5-0 thrashing of a mid-table side more than a star winger who does not love the club. It remains a difficult question, but one Guardiola and City will have to determine in these final eight league matches before a massive end to the Champions League in Lisbon.